Proposed HUD Rule Could Force Older Adults out of Affordable Housing

Regulation | May 16, 2019 | by Linda Couch

More than 4,300 older adults who had found solace and affordability in their HUD-assisted homes will now wonder about the stability of their housing. 

On May 10, 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a proposed rule that would end the practice of having “mixed status” families in federally assisted housing. Mixed-status families are households that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Both statute and regulation allow families to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible so long as the housing subsidy is decreased to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance.

The proposed rule would also require noncitizens who are 62 years old and older, who currently are only required to provide a signed declaration of eligible immigration status and a proof of age document, to submit immigration documentation. HUD’s impact analysis of the proposed rule estimates that 108,000 people would be affected, at least 70% of whom are eligible for HUD assistance.

The proposed rule would require immigration status verification of all household members under age 62; however, the housing supports of a primary resident over age 62 could be terminated if someone in the household under age 62 is found to not meet the proposed rule’s different standards. 

LeadingAge members who administer Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (on its own or tied to pre-1990 Section 202 communities as their operating subsidy) and Public Housing will be directly impacted as they likely have older adult (62+) residents who have declared an eligible immigration status but now must provide certain documents as proof. If any of these older adults were unable to document their eligible immigration status within a certain timeframe, our members would have to evict them.

"The proposed HUD rule is not in keeping with the stated purpose and spirit of our country's federal housing assistance programs, which were created to ensure stable, affordable places to call home," said Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO.  "It potentially splits older adults from family members in their households and puts still other older adults at risk of losing their homes.We believe in helping older adults age in the community, not in chaos and fear."

HUD is accepting comments on the proposed rule through July 9, 2019.  LeadingAge will be commenting and will appreciate input from members. You may forward your comments to Linda Couch or Colleen Bloom.

Details of the proposed rule are as follows:

If the proposed rule is implemented as written, prorated assistance will not continue to be provided beyond the next annual certification period for families in which there are any members that “do not contend” having eligible assistance status and who cannot produce any verifiable evidence of being of an immigration status eligible to receive assistance.

If the family fails to submit required evidence of eligible status in the method or timeframe required, including limited permissible time extensions, the housing provider will be required to deny or terminate assistance to the family.

The proposed rule would adversely impact older adults in two ways:

  • Prohibiting “mixed status” families from receiving any housing assistance. Currently, such households may receive prorated assistance if they share a home with an immigrant family member who is ineligible due to their immigration status. Under the terms of the proposed rule, no member of a household could receive housing assistance if anyone in the family is ineligible due to their immigration status. HUD’s own analysis shows that more than 1,500 older adults, who are U.S. citizens or who are otherwise eligible to receive housing benefits, could face eviction under the proposed rule.
  • Requiring noncitizens who are 62 years old and older, who currently are only required to provide a signed declaration of eligible immigration status and a proof of age document, to submit immigration documentation. If such documents could not be produced in the timeframe allowed, these older adults could lose their housing assistance. There are about 120,000 older adult immigrants in the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including in HUD Section 202 communities with PBRA), the Public Housing, and Housing Choice Voucher programs who would be impacted by this part of the proposed rule.

The proposed rule would apply to these federal housing programs:

  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA, which provides the operating subsidy for about two-thirds of the nation’s 400,000 homes in HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program).
  • Public Housing.
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
  • Section 235 Home Loan Program.
  • Section 236 Rental Assistance Program.
  • The Rent Supplement Program.
  • Housing Development Grant Programs (low income units only).

Note: The proposed rule would not impact Section 202s with Project-Rental Assistance Contracts (this is about one-third of all Section 202s (those built after 1990)).